Piperlongumine, an alkaloid causes inhibition of PI3 K/Akt/mTOR signaling axis to induce caspase-dependent apoptosis in human triple-negative breast cancer cells

Shweta Shrivastava, Prasad Kulkarni, Dinesh Thummuri, Manish Kumar Jeengar, V G M Naidu, Mallika Alvala, G Bhanuprakash Redddy, Sistla Ramakrishna
Apoptosis: An International Journal on Programmed Cell Death 2014, 19 (7): 1148-64
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3 K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling axis plays a central role in cell proliferation, growth and survival under physiological conditions. However, aberrant PI3 K/Akt/mTOR signaling has been implicated in many human cancers, including human triple negative breast cancer. Therefore, dual inhibitors of PI3 K/Akt and mTOR signaling could be valuable agents for treating breast cancer. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of piperlongumine (PPLGM), a natural alkaloid on PI3 K/Akt/mTOR signaling, Akt mediated regulation of NF-kB and apoptosis evasion in human breast cancer cells. Using molecular docking studies, we found that PPLGM physically interacts with the conserved domain of PI3 K and mTOR kinases and the results were comparable with standard dual inhibitor PF04691502. Our results demonstrated that treatment of different human triple-negative breast cancer cells with PPLGM resulted in concentration- and time-dependent growth inhibition. The inhibition of cancer cell growth was associated with G1-phase cell cycle arrest and down-regulation of the NF-kB pathway leads to activation of the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. It was also found that PPLGM significantly decreased the expression of p-Akt, p70S6K1, 4E-BP1, cyclin D1, Bcl-2, p53 and increased expression of Bax, cytochrome c in human triple-negative breast cancer cells. Although insulin treatment increased the phosphorylation of Akt (Ser473), p70S6K1, 4E-BP1, PPLGM abolished the insulin mediated phosphorylation, it clearly indicates that PPLGM acts through PI3 k/Akt/mTOR axis. Our results suggest that PPLGM may be an effective therapeutic agent for the treatment of human triple negative breast cancer.

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